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Robert Pagès (1919–2007)

Robert Pagès was a social psychologist who from 1952 to 1984 served as the director of the Laboratoire de la psychologie sociale, which was first associated with the Sorbonne and later with the CNRS. Another contributor to the Cahiers, Michel Pêcheux (writing under the pseudonym ‘Thomas Herbert’), worked in Pages’s laboratory during the period of the journal’s production. Pagès was a key figure in the field of social psychology in twentieth-century France, despite his never serving as a university professor and his never having published a major study, preferring instead to publish his work in the form of reports from the laboratory under his direction. Born in Belmontet in the southwest of France, Pagès first major influence was Georges Canguilhem, who taught Pagès during the latter’s khâgne year in Toulouse. Pagès spoke of his ‘double admission to the agrégation’ under Canguilhem, a reference to Pagès’s abandonment of his studies and involvement in the Resistance during the Second World War under Canguilhem’s guidance. A Trotskyist during these years, Pagès would find this experience formative for his later interest in ‘social experimentalism’ and his conviction that the progress of a society was only ever the result of collective action. In his critique of Canguilhem in the Cahiers pour l’Analyse, he acknowledges Canguilhem’s concerns about the influence of ideology on psychology, but maintains that a scientific psychology is possible as long as it maintains conceptual clarity about its object of study and resists the collapse into behaviourism.

In the Cahiers pour l’Analyse

Robert Pagès, ‘Quelques remarques sur “Qu’est-ce que la psychologie”’, CpA 2.2 [HTML] [PDF] [PDF]

Select bibliography

  • Le langage, Paris: Hachette, 1959.
  • ‘Marxisme, anarchisme et psychologie sociale’. Arguments, 6, 25-26 (1962).
  • ‘Daniel Lagache et la psychologie sociale’. Psychologie française, 19, no. 4 (1974).

A comprehensive bibliography, as well as further information about Pagès’s life and career, is available at: